Rural Online Initiative provides job opportunity

Meetings were held last week in Monticello and Blanding to educate attendees about a new program to train workers in online remote work opportunities.
Utah is pioneering an initiative that aims to bring jobs back to rural communities – jobs created by individuals for themselves, I might add.
Through a program funded by the legislature, individuals are trained to “prepare for, find, and obtain remote work opportunities.” This program is called the Rural Online Initiative (ROI), and San Juan County residents are eligible to receive funds for training in high-skill occupations.
Tell your kids they can move home now.
This is not your run-of-the-mill token legislative program that will fizzle and fade. The model Utah has adopted is already being looked at by other states.
Paul Hill, Principal Investigator for the Rural Online Initiative, said, “We’re ahead of the curve. This will bring cutting-edge education to rural communities.”
After obtaining the Remote Work Certificate – a self-paced, month-long course that teaches remote work skills – participants can take additional skill-building courses through education technology platforms such as PluralSight, Skillshare, Samaschool, and USU to increase their earning potential. This is where it gets exciting (in my opinion).
Let me zero in on one of these for just a second. PluralSight, if you haven’t heard, is one of Utah’s billion-dollar tech companies. It’s a technology skill platform that offers over 6,000 courses.
These courses are designed for experienced technology workers as well as beginners still trying to figure out their path. They use intelligence software to track learning and improve competence with any given skill. They are world class (That’s why they’re a billion-dollar company).
Using this resource alone, participants can become skilled in information technology, software development, 3-D modeling, video editing, graphic design, Android development, video game development, data science, digital forensics (doesn’t that sound fancy), Photoshop, AutoCAD, REVIT, and a host of other technical topics.
These technical skills pay more, are in high demand, and have remote work opportunities. And the legislature is going to pay for you to acquire these skills (though you need to apply for a skill scholarship at the end of the remote work certificate program to access funds for these programs).
Another resource, Skillshare, has a wider variety of courses that are more on the creative side. Some of the most popular include calligraphy and lettering! (Wouldn’t that be a fun freelance gig?)
There are also courses on illustration, photography, Photoshop, SEO, accounting, web development, drawing, data science, marketing, and more.
The courses on Skillshare are posted by individual teachers. The courses you take and the progression you attain are at your own discretion.
This program has the power to change life in San Juan County for the better.
Here’s some fun data for you. Per Bureau of Labor Statistics, these are average salaries of jobs that you can receive training in:
Software developer: $86,100 in Utah, over $100,000 nationwide
Database administrator: $87,000; Web developer: $67,990; Computer network architect: $104, 650
Multimedia artists and animators: $70,530; Graphic designer: $48,000
Industrial designer: $65,970; Drafter: $54,170
Film and video editor: $58,210; Writer and author: $61,820
Even computer support specialists make over $50k per year. Can you imagine high-paying jobs like that here amongst the red rock canyons and soaring monoliths?
Not every participant in the program will want to take courses on technical skills. The other pillars of the program can help participants become more competitive in the marketplace with skills they already have.
One interesting idea in development is the Utah Rural Freelancer Agency, a platform for freelancers in Utah. Developed in conjunction with Upwork, participants will have access to freelancing jobs posted specifically for Utahns.
Another thing the program can help with is a job search. Finding remote work opportunities can be a challenge. The program steers individuals toward vetted resources to find jobs and freelance opportunities compatible with remote work.
Additionally, in-state companies are eligible for the Ready Program, which is an incentive program that gives businesses money to hire individuals who have completed the remote work certificate program. These companies will certainly be glad to have you!
This program is not a job. It is not a placement program. It is not a college degree. It is an opportunity to learn technologies that enable you to work from home, access to training to acquire or update skills, and mentoring along the way.
If you’re interested in the least, browse through the courses of PluralSight or Skillshare and see what’s possible. It’s truly exciting.
Hill said, “If there’s one thing I‘d say, it’s make time, go out on a limb, and try it. If you’re uncomfortable, that means you’re growing and you’re on the right track.
“It’s a lifestyle decision to live in a rural community. It takes grit to stay. The Rural Online Initiative supports those people.
“If we can make lives easier and more prosperous, we are going to see our communities flourish and thrive. These rural communities – they’re our heritage.”
Go to and apply. Your program coordinator will take it from there.

San Juan Record

49 South Main St
PO Box 879
Monticello, UT 84535

Phone: 435.587.2277
Fax: 435.587.3377
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